A Test of Mettle

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Thrakis Gregory
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A Test of Mettle

Post by Thrakis Gregory » 2012-02-29 02:01

Wisps of dark mist rose from the forests to meet the civilian-model tranport, obscuring vision and muddling sensors with equal thoroughness. The canopy was blanketed in grayness, gauges spun madly, and display screens communicated gibberish or static. Thrakis's hands remained steady and sure on the control yoke as navigated toward his destination. The turbulence became worse as they approached, and Thrakis's calm and comfort seemed to grow in direct proportion to the magnitude of the wild incoherence around him.

Abruptly, the turbulence ceased and the shrouds of mist lifted. Rain pelted arrhythmically against the canopy. Thrakis remained still in his seat for a moment as the engines powered down. They had arrived.

Without a word, he unbuckled his restraints and motioned for Bastian to follow him as he left the cockpit. The sounds and smell of the rain and the jungle billowed in as the boarding ramp extended; Thrakis pretended not to hear Bastian's annoyed sigh.


"So where are we?" Bastian asked finally as they stepped out into the rain-soaked waist-high grass.

Thrakis inhaled deeply, his eyes closed. "Do you feel that?" he asked, ignoring Bastian's question. The planet emanated its own dark presence in the Force, and those emanations had only grown stronger as they approached; now they were so strong that they nearly overwhelmed all other senses. "There is power here." Thrakis spread his arms and rolled back his head, feeling the power flow through him. With the power was something else, something that clutched at his mind, threatening to carry it away into the blackness of the night. With a willful thought, Thrakis shattered the bonds it threatened to impose. "Take care. This power has intentions of its own; use it, bend it to your will, enslave it; do not let it do the same to you."

Thrakis turned to face Bastian, a secretive grin on his face. A burst of lightning thundered overhead, illuminating their position on the edge of a kilometers-wide clearing; across the clearing, a mammoth structure loomed over the area, dominating its surroundings. "Welcome to Dxun, the final resting place of the Sith lord Freedon Nadd."

Bastian Grimwulf
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Re: A Test of Mettle

Post by Bastian Grimwulf » 2012-02-29 06:34

Bastian "stared" with a level of interest indicative only of how happy he was to be off the planet they had previously been on: a dry, hot ball of nothing. The rain felt glorious as it streaked down his face teasing at his blind eyes like small children at a sleeping pet. There was beauty in the rain and power, as well.

Without saying a word, Bastian began to step forward through the aggravatingly tall grass, caught up in the torrential rain spattering off his pale skin and intermingling with his platinum silver hair. He felt the power Thrakis spoke of: a darkness that seemed only barely visible out of the corner of his mind's eye. It was like a whisper from the adjacent room. But it was persistent, pushing in against his mental defenses from all sides. As Thrakis stated, he could sense some kind of intention...almost malevolence in the air, but he forced it aside ruthlessly. As a powerful empath, Bastian had spent considerable hours honing his mental defenses to prevent external influence. He refused to be subject to the same emotional swings that he had previously fallen victim to. Over the months on various worlds training with Ace and Luke, he had even taken the opportunity to test his fortifications against their abilities to read. Obviously, he could not defeat them or hold them out indefinitely, but he was able to keep them at bay for increasingly large amounts of time. This ambience would not trouble him.

Thrakis started off across the clearing toward the massive structure, moving the grass as he moved through anything: smoothly, quietly. Bastian took another look at the vegetation and felt the annoyance rise within him. Recalling a well practiced lesson regarding separate bits of dirt, Bastian centered his mind and took a deep breath. As if a part of his body, the grass in his vicinity bent toward him but then pushed away as he exhaled. It did not return on his next breath. Displacing the grass took a small effort, but Bastian had decided it was worth it. The rain wasn't worth attempting to deflect, glorious as it was, merely the confounded grass.

That accomplished, Bastian started after Thrakis, an invisible force parting the grass ahead as he reached out with his mind to speak to his companion, an act he more and more chose over verbal speech.


"I assume Freedon has something you want? Or are we merely visiting the long-dead?"

Thrakis Gregory
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Re: A Test of Mettle

Post by Thrakis Gregory » 2012-03-21 11:05

Thrakis chuckled at Bastian's question, but offered no further explanation for the moment. His attention was on his surroundings. Dxun wasn't called the Demon Moon for nothing, and already a pack of the demons was responding to his intrusion. They were cat-like predators, and they watched the two invaders with hungry, vicious eyes.

Thus far, that was all the attention Thrakis and Bastian had drawn, but there were sure to be many more dangers lurking about. Thrakis would ordinarily have been all for engaging it all head-on, of course, but he had larger things on his mind right now, and neither was Bastian as capable in a frontal assault as he.

“Do you feel them?” Thrakis asked, his voice hushed, but seeming to carry on the wind directly to Bastian's ears. “We could fight them...but who knows what other attention that would draw? We will send them along to other prey, tonight.”

Thrakis turned to face Bastian, as the younger man pondered over how best to go about his task. It is not so hard; you already have the basics. He remembered how Bastian had channeled the Force as an insect repellent on Dagobah. These predators were more sophisticated than mosquitos, of course: they were more intelligent and more alert. A mere field of antipathy may do no more than anger them.

Look at it from their perspective. Thrakis found it fairly simple to slip his awareness into the thoughts and perceptions of one of the beasts, and from there, he guided Bastian's awareness to sense what he could sense. They are simple creatures; not completely unintelligent, but driven by instincts: crude, rudimentary thoughts. Indeed, it was difficult to decipher all of the predator's thoughts; its simplicity afforded its mind a certain protection from intrusion by more complicated minds. Still, with a little effort, it was not all that hard to devise a translation method.

His eyes closed, Thrakis saw the grassy clearing through a different, inhuman set of eyes. He was stalking forward, watching, smelling, searching for a weakness in the two humans ahead. He felt...uncertainty. These newcomers were unknown. Were they good for eating? Were they a threat? The rest of the pack was behind...he felt the confidence this gave.

Once you understand them, the way they think, how they perceive, it is not so hard to create subtle alterations.

He was still watching, but abruptly, the humans disappeared. Their scent vanished. The beast stood a little straighter, hoping to see over the grass, to see where its quarry went. When they did not reappear, it turned around, searching for another target, already forgetting the humans.

You may wish to practice on the others. This may become a test sooner than you expect.

Without another word, Thrakis turned back toward the monolithic shadow. Hopefully the place had not been picked clean by scavengers, though the planet's harsh fauna had probably dissuaded such behavior. Perhaps, if he was exceedingly lucky, he might even find a relic or two of Nadd's...but he wasn't counting on that.

Bastian Grimwulf
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Re: A Test of Mettle

Post by Bastian Grimwulf » 2012-03-24 02:43

Bastian continued to follow Thrakis following the impromptu "lesson." Such was Thrakis' style: to pass on just enough knowledge to know that something was possible and then allow Bastian to figure out the exact "how" of it on his own. In some ways, Bastian enjoyed this. It made for better learning in that he could forge his own connections and techniques in the Force. Of course, it often increased the amount of time it took to learn said lesson--or, rather, it would if not for the more disagreeable part of Thrakis' lessons: sudden hands-on experience.

In this case, Bastian knew that it would only be a matter of time before he would be forced to fend off a larger number of the beasts on the abysmal jungle world. In that spirit, rather than a spirit of real curiosity, Bastian focused the majority of his attention (what was unused by keeping the tall, moist grass from slapping against his waist) on duplicating Thrakis' feat.

As he had done previously while training with Luke and Ace, Bastian reached outward with his mind and first lightly touched the mind of one of the beasts still quietly approaching. It was with some degree of shock that he was met with...quiet. Less cautious now, Bastian immersed himself in the beast's consciousness, attempting to find the center of its perceptions. Again he was struck by the relative quiet of the beast's mind. There were impulses and rudimentary thoughts of hunger, hunting, and the strength of the pack. Despite this, though, there wasn't the bustle of a sentient mind as he had come to know while still on the Paladin some months before. The beast had a singular purpose, to hunt and feed. There were chords of self-preservation within that but nothing so nauseatingly cluttered as daydreams and worries, hopes and fears. There was emotion--the confidence and pride spawned by the pack, the joy of hunt--but it was simpler...more enjoyable.

As he settled into the beast's mind, Bastian allowed the pack confidence to feed over his connection into his own mind, along with the purposeful joy of the hunt. After being nearly destroyed by the brute force of human emotion, this beast's simple intricacies were glorious. The beast he had chosen to first link with had stopped its prowling, partially distracted by a vague notion of Bastian's intrusion and partially at a half-voiced command from Bastian himself. The rest of the pack was not so distracted. They had neared enough to make Bastian realize their presence again, so he broke his connection with the first and attempted a feat he had once practiced on Dagobah: group control. As Thrakis had suggested, it would not be too different with these beasts, especially now that he had spent time growing accustomed to their minds. Allowing his Force bubble to fade (leading to the wet 'SLAP!' of grass against his tunic), Bastian gathered the Force to himself and threw out a wave of apathy that he hoped would translate as "We are not good food." He was chagrined to see the beast's physically wilt and wail at his effort, he having overdone the command leading to causing them inexplicable pain. In a combination of intended disinterest and unintended fear, the creatures ran to find other prey, with one exception. With some effort, Bastian had held the first beast in proximity: attempting to command it to stay and follow.

As he turned back to follow Thrakis, whom had now gotten far ahead, Bastian allowed a relatively small portion of himself to drift into the beast's now familiar mind: again embracing the simple emotions. Sadly, the confidence of the pack and joy of the hunt had deserted the animal but, with some applied empathy, Bastian was able to send a kind of confidence from himself to the beast. He was uncertain if it would work exactly as intended, but it was his hope that it would kindle the concept that Bastian was the "pack" now. In any case, the beast followed and seemed moderately placated. Greater camaraderie would take greater time and practice, no doubt.


Knowing Thrakis, there would come the time when he would have the opportunity to try again. And he would need to be more controlled in his efforts: these beasts were small enough (within the larger predation cycle of Dxun) that they ran from enough pain. The larger predators would only be incited to fight by it. That would not be pleasant. For now, however, Bastian contented himself with catching up to Thrakis' quick pace with his psuedo-pet close behind. There was a humor in it, though he knew it would not last.

Bastian smiled.

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